Questions raised over additional Rs 450 cr for ‘failing’ Green Mahanadi Mission

Bhubaneswar: A day after Odisha cabinet approved the proposal to create a ‘green cover’ to rejuvenate major rivers including Baitarani, Brahmani and Rushikulya at a whopping additional outlay of Rs 450 crore, concerns are now being expressed over its success as the mission has not yielded results due to negligence.

The Green Mahanadi campaign was launched by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik from the banks of river Tel in Boudh district in the month of July. However, thousands of saplings planted along the river bed in Boudh have been damaged due to lack of proper care and maintenance and flood.

Though nearly 13 lakh saplings were to be planted along side Mahanadi bridge in Subarnapur, funds meant for the project were embezzled without a single tree being planted, alleged local residents. Not only Boudh and Subarnapur, the ground reality in Sambalpur is also not so different.

“The Green Mahanadi Mission is a complete failure as not a single forest official or NGOs are supervising the works for which saplings are dying,” said a Boudh resident.

Environmentalist Ranjan Panda on the other hand too appeared sceptical about the success of the project.

“Planting trees for the sake of a campaign will not serve the purpose until concrete action plan is made to review the survival rate of plants,” said Panda.

Sambalpur DFO, Sanjiv Kumar informed that steps have been taken for appointment of workers for watering the plants in urban areas.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Odisha government had targeted to plant two crore saplings on the banks of Mahanadi, Tel and Ib rivers under the Green Mahanadi Mission with a budgetary outlay for Rs 500 crore.

At a time when the Green Mahanadi Mission has gone off the tracks, the government’s decision to spend another Rs 450 crore in 5 years to create a green belt along Baitarani, Brahmani and Rushikulya has raised many eyebrows.

When contacted, Forest and Environment Minister Bijayshree Routray refused to comment on the matter.